SOUND­TRACKS: PROMO SYN­ERGY AND EVER­GREEN AP­PEAL

‘A Star Is Born,’ ‘Great­est Show­man’ lead a resur­gence of film mu­sic on the charts

Variety - - Focus - By PHIL GALLO

The “A Star Is Born,” “Great­est Show­man” and “La La Land” have re­vived the once-mori­bund sound­track mar­ket.

Stripped of CD play­ing time lim­i­ta­tions, Spo­tify de­vised the fluid sound­track last year, one that could add song af­ter song as a TV show pro­gressed. HBO’S “In­se­cure” was the guinea pig; by mid- Oc­to­ber it was up to 159 songs. The stream­ing ser­vice is tak­ing it fur­ther this month, part­ner­ing with Jonah Hill and A24 on the first evolv­ing playlist for a film, “Mid90s.”

Af­ter Spo­tify hosted a pre­miere party that in­cluded DJS spin­ning many of the 200 songs Hill lis­tened to while writ­ing the film, the stream­ing ser­vice went live with a 17-track sound­track/playlist with the in­ten­tion of adding more tracks and videos from the era. It’s tak­ing a shot at cre­at­ing a pop- cul­ture mo­ment with the au­di­ence that made phe­noms out of “The Great­est Show­man,” “La La Land” and “A Star Is Born.”

“Sound­tracks are evolv­ing to playlists and ex­pe­ri­en­tial mo­ments,” says Xavier Jerni­gan, Spo­tify’s head of cul­tural part­ner­ships.

While sound­tracks for an­i­ma­tion and films with mu­si­cal per­for­mances still sit high on charts for months, tech and pub­lic taste are driv­ing changes in the sound­track space. In­ter­est in mu­sic tied to film, TV and ad­ver­tis­ing is grow­ing thanks to the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion app Shazam (ac­quired by Ap­ple), and stream­ing is cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that did not ex­ist in the phys­i­cal prod­uct world.

Wit­ness Spring Aspers’ work on “Ho­tel Tran­syl­va­nia 3,” for which Sony Pic­tures re­leased tracks by Joe Jonas, Jonas Blue and Tiesto via three dif­fer­ent la­bels.

“Artists can put forth what they cre­ated and it doesn’t have to be pack­aged in a tra­di­tional way,” says Aspers, head of mu­sic for Sony Pic­tures, whose next project is work­ing with Repub­lic to launch Post Malone’s sin­gle with Swae Lee for the an­i­mated “Spi­der-man: Into the Spi­der-verse.” “Some­times, hav­ing the artists re­lease via their re­spec­tive la­bels means you don’t have to have just one part­ner and nav­i­gate get­ting rights from dif­fer­ent la­bels. You have a lot more flex­i­bil­ity.”

Or as Univer­sal Pic­tures pres­i­dent of mu­sic Mike Knobloch says: “All the older mod­els have been dis­rupted in one way or an­other. But there are still those brass rings.”

The new­est “brass ring” is In­ter­scope’s sound­track to “A Star Is Born,” which de­buted at No. 1 a week af­ter its Oct. 5 re­lease on sales of 231,000, the big­gest week for a sound­track in three-and-a-half years. The first sin­gle, Lady Gaga’s “Shal­low,” has ruled the itunes Top 10, with other tracks float­ing up and down sales and stream­ing charts. “It’s only when the mu­sic taps into the cul­ture and peo­ple’s lives that you get this kind of re­sponse.” says In­ter­scope’s film/tv exec VP and sound­track guru An­thony Seyler.

At­lantic Records West Coast pres­i­dent Kevin Weaver is get­ting set to ex­tend the life of the la­bel’s sound­track for “The Great­est Show­man,” a likely Grammy con­tender that has been cer­ti­fied dou­ble plat­inum. On Nov. 16, the la­bel will re­lease “The Great­est Show­man — Reimag­ined,” a col­lec­tion of cov­ers of the film’s songs by pop artists such as Panic! at the Disco, Pink and Kelly Clark­son. He de­scribes it as “youth- ori­ented, but in line with the ‘Show­man’ brand.”

“I do one or two sound­tracks a year,” says Weaver. “I know the band­width re­quired to do A&R, sales, mar­ket­ing and pub­lic­ity glob­ally that ben­e­fits our part­ners as much as the prop­erty ben­e­fits us. I try to bet on the things that have the big­gest po­ten­tial.”

At Univer­sal, Knobloch is bet­ting on Tyler, the Cre­ator, who has two tracks in “The Grinch.” Knobloch says bring­ing young hiphop stars into main­stream movies pro­vides a mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­nity to au­di­ences that might not oth­er­wise show in­ter­est in a par­tic­u­lar film. “Us­ing Tyler to do those tracks and uti­liz­ing Phar­rell as nar­ra­tor is very on brand for Il­lu­mi­na­tion [En­ter­tain­ment],” Knobloch says. “When things were for­ma­tive, we asked who had the right kind of voice. You’re al­most do­ing aux­il­iary cast­ing. It’s not so much about a trend, just what’s right for the film.”

Seyler, who started work­ing with Warner Bros. world­wide mar­ket­ing pres­i­dent Blair Rich from the mo­ment two years ago when Lady Gaga signed up for “A Star Is Born,” says: “Our job a lot of times isn’t just to get peo­ple to buy the mu­sic. The goal is to get peo­ple into the­aters. The magic is when ev­ery­thing is try­ing to drive peo­ple to see the film and the sound­track be­comes a part of their lives.”

Our job isn’t just to get peo­ple to buy the mu­sic. The goal is to get peo­ple into the­aters.”

An­thony Seyler

The Great­est Sou­venir

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